The Designer’s Guide To

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A guide to help new designers get the most out of blogging. Advice provided by international industry professionals, edited and curated by Richard Baird.

Consider the value of each post

Having been posting to bLog-oMotives since 2005, I think the one major piece of advice for any design blogger is to not feel obligated to post ALL the time. I post blog entries much less these days than I did years ago, in part due to the variety of other vehicles for sharing information – including social media/networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and others. My blog posts tend to be a combination of self-promotion, design information, personal observations and identity-specific topics. In the past my blog might have been used to share the work of other designers, bring attention to design websites, direct readers to books or articles that I’ve found interesting and the like. These days such info-sharing is often communicated more effectively with a tweet, Facebook update or other immediate status post. However, the reverse is also very valuable – social media/networking sites can be incredibly useful in driving traffic to posts on a blog.

Provided by @LogoMotives

Get ready for the long haul

Get ready for the long-haul. It could take years before your blog reaches the heights you aspire toward, which is why you need to write about your passion, or you’ll soon lose interest.

Provided by @davidairey

Getting the latest content: RSS

Build up a subscription of RSS feeds from potential sources. Look to follow websites and blogs which are the providers of original content and avoid second hand news from inspiration sites, these often post articles regardless of age. Use tools such as Google ReaderReederMobileRSS to stream the information and make it quick to scan through articles and sync these across mobile and home platforms.

Provided by @richbaird

Finding the latest content: Dating projects

A lot of design agencies don’t date their content (I assume to give the impression that their projects are fresh). If there’s a project you really like, check the twitter and facebook accounts of the client and see how many followers they have, I find, roughly, that the lower the number, the newer the project. Also do an image search to see how widespread a project is, the places it has been published and whether other blogs have dated the content, this is a quick way of making sure that the project you’re planning to post isn’t really old news or highly saturated.

Provided by @richbaird

Always reference your sources

If you paraphrase, rework information or take images from other websites or blogs, make sure you link back and provide the right credits, both for the content creator and the blog you found it through.

Provided by @CreativePanes

Original content

There are a lot of design inspiration blogs duplicating content from other sites. If you’re going to set up a similar site try to find an interesting niche, look for the exclusive or try to add something new to each post, an opinion or critical review.

Provided by @richbaird

Freebies

Approach freebies from the users point of view. What would they want to download? Social icons are popular but try to think outside the box. Be unique whilst producing something that will appeal to a lot of people. That way you will get more downloads and an increased volume of traffic and shares.

Provided by @ben_bate

Spelling and grammar

Make sure that you check and recheck your content for grammatical errors before you publish, some will slip through but try to keep the quality consistently high. Services like wordpress will only consider featuring posts that are well written, these can lead to more traffic and site interaction so is worth aiming for. Read WordPress’s guide to getting featured here.

Provided by @richbaird

Keep your blog regular and up to date

This might sound like a very simple piece of advice but it’s very important. Not having regular updates gives your readers the impression that you simply “can’t be bothered”. You might be genuinely busy with home life or work and if that’s the case, then you should at least let people know with a short message. Maybe even blog smaller updates until you have the time to write more substantial material but keep the quality consistent.

Not updating regularly also gives prospective clients the impression that you can start something but not keep it going and possibly not finish it either. They wouldn’t hire someone who’s able to start a project and then lose interest half-way through.

So, keep your content fresh and relevant. Try and keep to a schedule of when you release new posts so that readers can look forward to reading your next article or piece of advice. If you’re struggling for new content you could post an interesting link with a short description to keep content flowing. This will help to keep content growing on your blog while you’re putting together a full post for later that week.

Provided by @heinrichdsf

Preparation

Blogging can be a great opportunity to share your opinions or the things you love but it’s not an easy task. Advanced preparation is essential when launching your blog, strive for something unusual and distinctive, helpful and engaging.These could be tips & techniques, freelancing, everyday experiences or a gallery of work you find inspirational, keep it to something you like and are comfortable writing about on a frequent basis.

Provided by @NxAlessandro

Sharing

Social networking is essential to delivering your content to a wider audience. Make sure that all your articles have the popular share buttons and that these tie back to your blog’s Twitter account. This will allow you to engage with the people sharing your articles and also the opportunity to show a bit of gratitude. Don’t over promote, people are quick to un-friend/unlike and un-follow spammers. I aim to promote twice a day to catch the European and American readers as this is where the majority of my traffic comes from.

Provided by @richbaird

Comments

Try to ask questions in your posts to engage your readership and stimulate feedback and opinions, be sure to reply to comments and try to avoid censorship, everyone is entitled to an opinion (unless it’s offensive).

Provided by @richbaird

A balanced work/blog life

Be sure you can manage your time around posts effectively, get up a little bit earlier or plan a hour in your day when you won’t be distracted. Don’t let your blog and your commitment to it become detrimental to your business.

Provided by @richbaird

Stick to what you know

Stick to what you’re know and write with authority and confidence. Blog about what you have experience of and are passionate about, it’ll always make for better reading.

Provided by @CreativePanes

Sharing via Facebook

When posting your articles to Facebook it’s worth considering the photo you plan to use for the preview image. I run a design comment and inspiration site and have found that different types of images generate different numbers of click throughs. The strongest tend to be live photography of stationery rather than just a flat picture of a logo, or business cards that use interesting material textures or print finishes.

Provided by @richbaird

Tell your readers what you think and not just what you like

Who really cares what you like? The purpose of reposting should be to add to the ongoing global discourse that is growing around graphic design. Young designers (especially students) have an amazing opportunity to reach out globally, not only to other designers but also to potential employers, so should use this opportunity wisely. Let’s face it we all know great work when we see it, so if you are reposting a great piece of design tell the world why you think it’s great, you never know someone out there might agree with you and be looking for a young articulate designer who likes the same kind of work that they do.

Provided by @AnthonyRoocroft

Blog to learn

Blog because of your own desire to learn, and forget about popularity. This guarantees the time invested in research and writing will at the very least, benefit one person—you. Few blogs become ’popular’ but every one can be a personal success if used as an opportunity to further your own knowledge.

Provided by @idApostle

Use the old to drive traffic to new

Your experience and understanding of design will change, you may regret earlier posts but it’s worth keeping these on-line as a way to drive traffic to newer articles through inbound links.

Provided by @richbaird

Provide added value

It’s all very well writing about your expertise in effective blogging, but unless you can provide material that would make someone else’s life better, it’s not going to get noticed, read, shared, talked about, commented on, retweeted, bookmarked – and a myriad of other things that could benefit both you and thousands of others.

Provided by @alice_elliott

Find your niche

Many people use a blog like a random diary about the various things they get up to in their lives. However, if you want your blog to become an authoritative resource in a certain field like web design for example, you need to choose a niche topic that you’re passionate about and keep your content targeted to that niche e.g. Chris Coyier writes about CSS on his blog http://css-tricks.com

By having content that is targeted to a specific niche you’ll find that your traffic will grow faster. This is not only due to readers remembering your site but also due to Google indexing your site better in their search engine index as your site has a high relevance to keyword searches in your specific niche. Basically you want to avoid being a jack of all trades and instead be a master of a single topic.

Provided by @AdhamDannaway

Optimise for search engines

If you’re looking to grow the amount of traffic you get to your blog you need to consider SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO basically involves making your content search engine friendly so that it pops up in Google searches when people search for what you wrote about.
You should always write your blog articles for a person to read and not for the Googlebot but there are some SEO tips and tricks that will help you get the edge over other blogs. One great resource that I use is http://www.seomoz.org/blog

Provided by @AdhamDannaway

Promoting your posts

Twitter, Facebook and to a lesser extent Google+ are great ways to get your content out into the world but be aware, you’re at the mercy of corporate machines. You may build a following of thousands on Facebook for instance but the reality is only a small percentage of these will see your posts, Facebook expect you to pay to reach the rest. Even businesses have begun to questions the value of payed reach. Currently this isn’t an issue on Twitter or Google+ but it’s worth bearing in mind that that could change. Focus on e-mail subscriptions, these are easier to manage and track and you have a guaranteed reach of 100% without the cost.

Provided by @richbaird

Create conversations

Explore the blogosphere within your areas of interest and comment on others’ work and posts. This way you create an awareness among the blogger community about your presence and they will start following your site. Bloggers like to share ideas and express opinions, the comment box is one best way to start the conversation thread.

Provided by @jasoncktham

Avoid favouritism

Avoid the temptation to favour established designers or design agencies simply to achieve greater exposure for your blog through the retweets and shares that they often deliver. Even these established studios will publish projects that don’t fit your blog or are perhaps not as strong as their previous work.

Provided by @richbaird

Submit functionality

Be sure to add a submit page to your site so that designers and agencies have a quick and easy way of sending you their latest work. I’ve found that 90% of the work submitted doesn’t fit my blog but the 10% that does means that I don’t have to spend the time researching.

Make sure that your image and copy requirements are clear and don’t be afraid to ask for additional images, these can give your post an advantage, especially when it cones to Google image searches.

Provided by @richbaird

Don’t be afraid to say no

As your blog becomes more established and seen by designers and agencies as providing a good level of exposure you should start to receive a decent number of submissions. A lot of these won’t be appropriate and often part of a blanket e-mail exercise, be sure to say thank you and take the time to explain that on this occasion the content is quite right for your blog. I’ve found that a lot of the people that submit the work that gets rejected respect me for saying no and having a philosophy that underpins my blog. Designers and agencies growing and change, their next submission might be perfect.

Provided by @richbaird

 

Contribute!

If you are a designer and have any advice you would like to add to this article, please submit your contribution as a comment below and remember to include your Twitter ID so I can credit your tip.

 

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